Volkswagen quits car lobby group’s policy committee after Tesla, Polestar exits

Published by
Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson

Volkswagen has quit its role informing policy for Australia’s peak automotive lobby in the latest protest against the group’s stance on promised vehicle emission rules.

The automaker, which represents Audi, Skoda and Cupra in Australia, has resigned from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry’s policymaking committee, saying a strong fuel-efficiency standard would be “in the best interests” of Australia.

Its resignation comes just days after electric vehicle firms Polestar and Tesla announced their plans to withdraw from the FCAI entirely, with Tesla claiming the group had made “false and misleading” claims about the impact of a standard in Australia.

But Volkswagen’s announcement comes as Toyota revealed its support for the lobby group’s stance on the government’s New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, with the popular car maker calling for smaller fines, lower targets and more ways to pool credits as part of the scheme.

A Volkswagen Australia spokesman told AAP the company resigned from the FCAI’s policy committee after internal discussions about the group’s public statements on the proposed vehicle efficiency standard.

“Volkswagen Group Australia speaks for itself on public and policy matters including the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard,” the company said in a statement.

“A strong (standard) is in the best interests of this country.”

Volkswagen has previously announced plans to stop selling petrol and diesel vehicles in Europe by 2035 and to launch four electric vehicles to Australia this year.

But the company stopped short of resigning its FCAI membership over its public comments, as Tesla and Polestar did.

The FCAI responded to the car brands’ moves by reiterating its support a fuel-efficiency standard in general while urging the government to reconsider “the timing, structure and trajectory” of its emission limits.

“We support the introduction of a (standard) on a ‘modest start, fast finish’ basis,” the group said.

The government’s proposed fuel-efficiency standard would set a pollution limit on vehicle fleets, in a move designed to encourage car makers to balance the sales of high-emitting vehicles with more efficient and low-emission cars.

Labor’s preferred model would catch up to the US by 2028 and cut more than 60 per cent of vehicle emissions by 2029.

But in its submission to to the government, Toyota criticised the proposal, saying the emission-reduction targets were too stringent and the penalties for exceeding limits “too severe” and should be eliminated for the first two years of the scheme.

Toyota Australia sales vice-president Sean Hanley said any vehicle efficiency scheme should give brands credits for using environmentally friendly air-conditioning refrigerants and allow automotive groups to “pool” credits.

“Without these measures, the (standard) risks leaving customers behind and leading to unintended consequences that could defeat the intent of the proposed standard,” he said.

The federal government is expected to introduce vehicle efficiency standard in January 2025.

Source: AAP

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